By Sidney Reilly
Call me a curmudgeon (or don’t, whatever, I’m not your dad, jeez…) but I can’t wait for the World Cup to be over. Damnit, no. That’s not true. Because I appreciate sports played on their highest level. So I’m not exactly holding my breath for the event to end, but I could do without all the preening and douchery that they usher in for a few weeks every four years (not unlike the Olympics, or an STD scare).
First of all, the faking of injury in the world of soccer is as real and endemic as the American disease that causes rational people to watch The Big Bang Theory. The problem has sort of become a cliché, but only because it’s so true. It’s truer than man-made climate change and the theory of evolution rolled up into a crepe and being eaten by the West Memphis Three.
These guys flop all over the pitch any time anyone gets near them in the hopes of drawing a penalty, and the worst part is it works. For some odd reason, the referees can’t crane their necks upward to look at replays and see what’s evident to anyone watching. Flopping for a whistle runs rampant and affects the game, and like many things on the world stage, we only pay attention when it’s “sexy.”
Luis Suarez, a star player from Uruguay, bit another player on the back in the middle of a game last week. And of course the refs acted like they were somehow unsure of what happened—despite the fact the victim had a clearly visible impression of Suarez’s teeth on his shoulder, and more incredibly, that Suarez was flopping around like a salmon on the bank, clutching his teeth in agony.
That’s pretty much the only acting job that has gotten any notice, despite some instances so glaring and preposterous that they merit Daytime Emmy nominations.
Oh yeah, did I mention the other acting that goes on at the World Cup? It’s the part where we all act like the game is civilized, even artful, despite the fact that players and fans alike are saturated with crude and openly racist troglodytes.
If you were wondering where the best place to see neo-Nazis walking around openly extolling the virtues of Fascism and the ball-handling skills of Lionel Messi in the same breath, then get thee to Rio.
Yes, in case you forgot, something like 30% of the world, at minimum, is still horribly racist and nostalgic for a time when you could call a _______ a ________ (insert your favored epithet here). Yet strangely the Olympics don’t seem to bring out quite as many scary dudes who hate minorities as the World Cup does.
Among this year’s banner moments: a shirtless Nazi enthusiast running onto the field to let us all know how much he loves Hitler, German fans in black face, Mexican fans’ widespread use of homophobia to taunt opponents, everybody in sight using “Jew” and “monkey” as verbal daggers against their opponents, Dutch airline KLM tweeting “Adios Amigos” after the Dutch eliminated the Mexican squad, and of course Croatian and Russian fans unfurling neo-Nazi banners during games.
Of course you can’t blame this on soccer, and all sports will have their own uncouth fans to deal with and be embarrassed by. But as far as I can tell, no game brings out the worst in us more than “the beautiful game,” and sadly, nobody seems to be that embarrassed.